Outside the Core: Extending intelligence to your audience with training programmes

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Jasper Jackson, TheMediaBriefing Experts' Blog, B2B Media, Consumer Media, Digital Media

This is the first in a new series - Outside the Core - looking at areas where publishers can create new revenue streams that build on their core business. 

Publishers are in the business of conveying information, but delivering that information via media can only get you so far. Some problems require intensive, more personal, more personalised learning - the kind of thing you can't learn from reading a magazine every week or a website every day.

Publishers are already a trusted source of information, and that puts them in an ideal position to become a trusted source of training as well. So we took a look at three very different training programmes successfully run by publishers. 

Econsultancy: Beyond self-learning in digital marketing

For digital marketing specialist Econsultancy.com, training is actually a core part of the business, accounting for a large proportion of revenue. The firm has been running public courses since 2006 and in-house training since 2007. Last year, Econsultancy trained more than 5,000 people globally.

Subscribers to Econsultancy's other services get discounts on training programmes of 10 percent. Public courses are available on a single purchase basis at a set price. The firm has found these less successful in the US, where the size of the country makes it difficult to bring people from different firms together in a single location. They have been more successful in places such as London and Singapore. 

In-house prices vary with add-ons such as assessments of existing staff capabilities, Econsultancy executive VP for EMEA and Asia Peter Abraham tells TheMediaBriefing that the courses build on Econsultancy's editorial reports by delivering content in different ways, and often at a more appropriate level.

He says: "People don’t always have time to read all this stuff. For instance with our 200-page SEO best-practice guide, if you are head of SEO, great, but in some cases some people who are just starting, their knowledge might be very low.

"Often what we’ll do is deliver fast track courses which give them baseline fundamentals.  There also comes a point in self-learning where you can't go any further."

Training courses are run primarily by Econsultancy staff, many of whom have built up experience working in the sectors they cover. The firm also launched the first Msc in digital marketing, and also runs another masters course in online retail, both with Manchester University, which have produced 280 graduates altogether so far.

Nursing Times: Boosting subs with training units

Emap's publishing brand for the nursing profession began trialing online training units in 2010. The first 12 were adapted versions of content from a third-party provider. However, from 2011 the magazine took the process in-house and has produced around 20 units itself. 

The sessions are written by nursing specialists selected from the contacts book of the Nursing Times team, which means they can choose from experts in each field from across the country.

Nursing Times practice and learning editor Ann Shuttleworth tells us: "It means we are pretty confidence about the quality of our units. It’s another advantage in-house units can’t offer. I think because the virtue of B2B publishing, it involves talking to experts, you build up relationships with them, so you can persuade them to spend a week working for you."

The units cost £10 each on their own, and some units have also been sponsored by advertisers, though they have no editorial input. However, the key benefit for the magazine came when they made all the units available free to subscribers, which has provided a significant upturn in new subscriptions to Nursing Times. 

Training is marketed heavily on the Nursing Times website, and also via emails targeted at readers based on which clinical areas they work in. 

Journalism.co.uk: Practical lessons built on contacts

Media news and tips site Journalism.co.uk runs a range training courses in journalistic techniques such as social media, SEO and data journalism. The majority of courses are face-to-face, either public courses with around ten places or in-house bespoke training. 

Journalism.co.uk charges £200 for most one-day courses and £95 for evening courses. They are run on a profit-share basis with commissioned tutors, which helps minimise risk. As at Nursing Times, a journalist's contacts book is key to finding the right person to run a course. 

Journalism.co.uk reporter Sarah Marshall, who took over running the course programme last year, says: "We've delivered courses to national publishers and smaller titles during the past few months. The management of both open courses and in-house courses sits neatly in editorial."

Marshall says organising courses takes up between five and 10 percent of her time, with admin support in areas like marketing and booking venues provided by a colleague. However, finding the right venue can prove difficult.

"One thing that is a challenge is in finding suitable venues, particularly for evening courses and those requiring computers," says Marshall. "We like to run courses at a venue that says positive things about Journalism.co.uk and gives out the right messages." 

"Ideally courses would run in a venue with a friendly reception, a range of Macs and PCs with the latest software, good lunch options and close to a tube."

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