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New capabilities present production challenges

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Brenda Griffin, the senior director of integrated media operations for McGraw-Hill Construction, has worked in magazine production for 20 years. Media Business: What do you think production execs need to be doing better? Brenda Griffin: We are finally starting to see publishing industry execs recognize that in order to remain competitive, they need to expand their digital capabilities to increase revenues and better serve their customers. This is being accomplished by building their own in-house agencies, similar to what McGraw-Hill Construction is doing, or by acquiring agencies, as Hearst, Penton Media and Random House have done recently. The challenge will be to allow the innovative agency culture to operate without being constrained by the needs of the traditional production environment. MB: How do you balance production for so many different outlets now? Griffin: You have to be scrappy and sophisticated at the same time. Every idea should be scalable for the next customer with a few minor enhancements. You also have to be able to deliver very quickly on an idea. Most clients will not wait six months for you to develop an app for them. So whatever you come up with, it has to be easy to execute because you are often competing for internal resources that are committed to other projects. From a talent perspective, we have found resources who can navigate between creative services and production and print and digital. This gives them the opportunity to use production downtime to work on more innovative projects.
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