3 lessons from an editor of the largest American publications (B2C finalist CMY)

World in September. This is the first year we will be appointing a content marketing specialist of the year in two categories – B2B and B2C.

Neil Wertheimer says things as they are. Driven by a passion for creating positive change for people through the journalism that he oversees, he ensures that the content his team creates at AARP inspires, educates, and nurtures the immense, diverse, and informed audience of the audience. Organization, made up of more than 38 million members.

Neil considers his mission to use the power of words to help the world around him. This is evident from all of his work as deputy editor of AARP The Magazine and the AARP Bulletin, which together provide a double push against stereotypes about aging. His work supervising the day-to-day development of these two publications – the two largest-circulation magazines in the United States – earned him a place in our short list of finalists for the B2C Content Marketer of the year.

The @neilwert @AARP mission is to use the power of words for the benefit of the world. #CMWorld Click to tweet

Why he caught our attention: Neil's commitment to meeting journalistic standards for both the public and the brand ensures that the content his team produces really connects. With a team of internal collaborators and freelancers, the publications address topics that matter to those over 50, including: employment, retirement, health, wealth, fraud and dementia. Recognizing that this age group is anything but homogeneous, the articles treat readership as a disparate group, offering information that meets the needs and concerns of 50, 60, 70 and 80 year olds. The magazine is published in three separate editions, each targeting a different age group. The AARP newsletter goes further in this personalization by producing more than 20 regional versions of each issue, each with unique content based on the city or state of the member.

Neil's work at AARP and throughout his career, both in marketing and in consumer publications, offers many useful lessons and reminders to all content professionals.

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1. Know your audience, but also trust your instinct

Adults over 50 are not the easiest audience to impress. They do not form a single group, their needs and preferences vary and, well, they are prone to boredom all seen before.

The complexity adds to the different missions of each publication. These are the challenges facing Neil's team, led by editor Bob Love, 16 times a year. The magazine's six issues balance the content of the services, the inquiry functions and the entertainment by using celebrity-based cover stories and attractive design to attract readers.

The AARP Bulletin, published 10 times a year, focuses more on national and local issues that may affect the lives of readers – how personal information sold on the black web contributes to fraud against older Americans with misconceptions about social security, etc. quality of life issues.

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The AARP editorial team is doing something good. Both publications have been recognized in the Content Marketing Awards. This year, the two finalists were honored with the Best Overall Writing Award – Printed, and several articles, columns and computer graphics were recognized in other categories. You can read the digital version of A Legal Hostage, finalist of the best feature article – Printed, on the AARP website.

Within the organization, publications are popular. AARP closely follows the role of magazines in the overall experience of members. The numbers tell a positive story: magazines were identified as the main communication tool for the organization and among the main reasons that motivated AARP members to renew. It's a powerful content.

. @ AARP magazines are one of the main reasons why members say they renew, said @carlajohnson. #CMWorld Click to tweet

How do they generate such an impact?

It starts with a commitment to understand the reader. A dedicated member of Neil's team organizes and compiles readers' letters, e-mails and social media posts to identify the stories that resonate the most.

The team also sends out surveys to readers a few weeks after each issue of the Bulletin and magazine to measure overall and individual satisfaction. The investigations also focus on the utility, uniqueness and value of entertainment. The results are a mandatory reading for AARP publishers.

All this data is transferred into a proprietary algorithm to create an engagement score. Neil and his team use this database to analyze, measure and compare past content and main approaches, as well as to identify opportunities to create more meaningful content.

Yet, audience research does not drive everything. Neil often uses the phrase that search is a 60% solution. He and his team use this information to eliminate bad ideas, reveal opportunities and highlight surprising victories. Neil adds that the remaining 40% comes from less tangible factors, such as curiosity, creativity, intuition, experience, and constant observation of the world around them. He and his team are voracious readers and e-mails fly daily within the AARP publications team, which shares links and ideas.


2. Learn from each job

Almost every job held by Neil reflects and informs his intuition and intangible skills. For the first 13 years of his career, Neil was a reporter and editor working in the Los Angeles area. From there, he went to Rodale Inc., where he oversaw the book programs for Men's Health, Runner's World, Bicycling, Prevention and Yankee magazines, as well as for several custom titles. This work has put him in touch with the daily concerns of a large subset of consumer interests.

With his basics in service journalism, Neil then oversees an international book publishing program for Reader's Digest, which focuses primarily on health, cooking, money and home, but also includes riddles , history and humor. He has collaborated with brands such as Humana and Nokia to create an attractive content feed consisting of newsletters and toolkits for people to manage their health.

A position at the helm of Studio Fun International, a children's publishing company, helped him expand his creative skills while working with leading mainstream brands such as Disney, DreamWorks, Fisher -Price, Star Wars, Hasbro, Barbie, Sesame Street and DC Comics.

Later, as Senior Director of Content Strategy for Wunderman Health, Neil leveraged his experience in audience development, journalism and storytelling to create content marketing strategies and roadmaps for 10 international brands of consumer products.

After working in media and content marketing, Neil understands the importance and difficulty of producing legitimate journalistic content while supporting branding and marketing goals.

Another thing he learned is that good writing, which guarantees authentic, accurate and honest content, is essential to both sides of the brand-journalism balance.

# Authentic, accurate and honest content is essential to balancing brand journalism and brands. @neilwert #CMWorld Click to Tweet

But that does not mean that Neil is only a printed creature. The AARP team creates content that can be enjoyed on all platforms. For example, the August-September issue of AARP magazine, which now arrives in mailboxes across America, contains a tribute to Woodstock commemorating 50 years of existence and an article on how the Property brothers could update a home for their parents. Online versions of these pieces include videos created in partnership with AARP Studios, as well as a wide range of additional content, and support printing with digital material.

Neil is also collaborating on other digital content projects for AARP, such as the development of a series of audio programs and mini-book downloads for members, and the editorial advisor function for a weekly podcast titled The Perfect Scam, featuring crooks. Frank Abagnale (you may know his story from the Catch Me If You Can book and movie) and the host, Will Johnson, a former Discovery Channel producer. The series tells personal stories of scam victims and their families. He presents interviews with professional crooks and fraud prevention experts who help to better understand how people can avoid falling prey to the scammers' dark trade trap.

3. Build (and reward) a great team

Strong and relevant content (adapted to local areas) requires the work of more than one person. Neil works with a team of 12 editors to produce the 16 numbers combined and their many variations depending on the age or geography of the member.

Neil and the editorial team then interact daily with a centralized design and design team, as well as a small group of editors from the digital team who contribute to the Bulletin and the magazine. Most of the content in each publication comes from independent writers. Communications with video teams, social and web media are ongoing, as are interactions with departments throughout the AARP program.

The secret to attracting and retaining talented writers (including high-level journalists)? A fair salary, a commitment to quality content and a long delay. The production of investigative pieces can take several months. The general public of publications does not hurt either.


With great power …

The punk icon Henry Rollins presented this directive and launched a rallying cry to all content producers at the ContentTECH Summit earlier this year:

You are the future. I hope this prevents you from sleeping at night. There are millions of people you will never meet and who will depend on you to do things right. This is not something to be feared. It's just to be respected, and you should be afraid to go wrong.

This same feeling guides Neil's work at AARP. Of course, its brand has incredible reach and a budget to secure top-level talent. But the beliefs on which he relies in all his roles will enhance the work of any reseller of content.

Research Matters Skills matter. Teams matter. Words count. People count.

#Search is important. Skills matter. Teams matter. Words count. People count. @carlajohnson #CMWorld Click to Tweet

Be there to know who will win the title of B2B and B2C content marketing specialist of the year. And while at Content Marketing World from September 3 to 6, gain the skills and tools to develop your own content marketing success. Register today using the code CMIBLOG100 to save $ 100.

Cover image of Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute

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