Jessica Pucci’s title at Manifest is Audience Editor, which indicates not only her position but her relationship to the members of her team and her team’s focus. She also teaches media ethics at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism.
What does an Audience Editor do?
I do all of the things a typical agency editor would do: assigning, editing, and writing digital content to market my clients’ brands; working with our art team to ensure the content is aesthetically pleasing, on-brand, and cohesive; and distributing the content via digital and social channels.
The “audience” part denotes that I’m part of a special team that optimizes our content using real-time analytics. Our team includes a dedicated analyst who constantly monitors audience behavior and engagement as well as a dedicated search/SEO/paid initiative specialist, who analyzes keywords, optimizes content for search engines, and decides what pieces of content need or deserve paid reach. Together with a social media manager and a visual designer, we work in a content cycle in which audience analytics are constantly fed back into the editorial system.
What do you find satisfying about being an Audience Editor?
Nearly instant gratification. Within hours, I know whether an infographic is gaining traction in social media, and within 24 hours, I know how well an article performed. Instead of making educated guesses about content performance, we have data telling us the real answers and steering us where were our audience wants to go.
Is there any overlap between being an Audience Editor and teaching media ethics?
As an ethics instructor, I warn against knowing “too much” about your audience in traditional journalism; if audience insights and behavior play a role in your gatekeeping — that is, if you’re only publishing news that your audience wants to hear — you’ll erode your credibility and, eventually, take your audience down with you. In marketing or brand journalism, we do our journalism the same way, except with one important change: The brand is a primary loyalty.
Is there a secret sauce for connecting with and growing your audiences?
There is no secret sauce: Every brand is different and, thus, so is every audience. Best practices serve as guidelines, but the strategy should be brand-specific.
For example, some brands see stronger engagement on Twitter than they do on Facebook. For any voice on any platform, though, the traditional values of truthfulness, immediacy, accountability, and accuracy are always paramount to creating and maintaining credibility. Copy editing plays a significant role in maintaining truth and accuracy, and most audiences expect the consistency in voice and language copy editing provides. I’d argue that they prioritize it, even.
Any recent adventures in editing to share?
Analytics doesn’t solve all the problems of content creation and editing — sometimes, it makes things tougher. Recently, we were creating a roundup of barbecue recipes, and my colleague and I had a friendly disagreement about the word barbecue. Google Trends will show you that people search BBQ more than barbecue, so using BBQ in the headline would likely be more effective from a search point of view. But my loyalty to AP and the client’s voice made me want to keep barbecue. We wrestled with that.
I’m happy to say barbecue won out in the end, but this position certainly opens up a lot of conversations I wouldn’t have otherwise had in a traditional newsroom.
What fortune-cookie-sized advice would you give other online editors?
Understand your audience — and know that you may have more than one.
What do you enjoy doing when you take off your editor cap?
I have two preschoolers that keep me awfully busy, but I also love cooking, reading, and traveling.
Thanks, Jessica, and good luck in the future!