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Feeding the Beast: Producing Serial Content Effectively, Part 1: Generating Content

Video publishers often struggle to keep up with the demands of viewers expect fresh content on a daily basis, and advertisers who want lots of inventory. This article explains how a two-person production crew generates 800-1,000 new videos per year for a leading site for investors.

Leveraging Experts and Heightening Profiles

So, how do we keep this production train running? First, we rely on experts and leverage existing work. We already have a bunch of in-house analysts and experts that are creating content, writing research reports, so we leverage the work that they’re already doing as much as possible

We have more than 100 analysts on staff, most of them in our Chicago office, and they cover more than 43,000 different investments. Our mutual fund staff covers thousands of mutual funds. Our equity staff covers almost 1,700 different stocks globally. Each member of the staff is expert in their own particular field, so we have, for example, a technology analyst that covers Apple and other consumer technology companies; we have analysts that cover just the chipmakers; we have analysts that cover the railroads.

So whenever news is breaking on any particular sector, we have somebody that we can tap to talk about it. Let’s say Apple reports earnings on a Monday after the close. We bring the Apple analyst down, get his take on it right away, and push that video out. And we also have a number of strategists that take existing research and apply it towards a particular strategy. We have a person that focuses solely on dividend investing, so they can look across our coverage universe and see what stocks are poised for dividend increases and which ones are yielding a good rate right now, and build portfolios based off of the existing research we’re already doing.

Having these strategically placed experts (Figure 3, below) and making sure they get regular exposure through our site helps us build out personalities. These experts want to be known; they want their research to get out there; they want the media calls; they want to advance their own careers as well as Morningstar’s business, and that’s a great thing. To be able to leverage that and to help create personalities on the site that our customers become familiar with and can rely on and as trusted sources of information to the site and the experts we have on staff.

Figure 3. Morningstar specialists.

We also have a handful of interviewers or hosts that are separate from the research staff, and I think that’s really important because we’ve done experiments where you might have one analyst interviewing another analyst and it never works, because those two people are on the same team. You can’t have two people on the same team interview each other, because it becomes a sort of love fest where they’re essentially saying, “Oh, so tell me how great your research is,” and the response is, “Well, thanks for asking. It’s as great as you say and you happen to also be my boss.” From an editorial perspective, it just doesn’t work.

Because we work exclusively on the editorial/publishing side, with a handful of people that operate independent of the research staff, our interviewers can act as the viewers’ advocate, ask the questions that you would want asked if you were watching the video, just as a reporter or an anchor would.

The clip below is a short compilation of some of the videos that center around experts and provides a sense of what they look like, what they feel like, and who’s in them, and also offers a look at the studio space that we’re working with.

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