Joe Spring got his start at Outside just over two years ago as an intern, and then he worked as assistant research editor and assistant editor before landing his position as online editor last February. He talks with PRWeek about topics like the increasing popularity of video on the Web, and the various duties his position entails.
PRWeek: Can you describe a bit about what you do each day or week in your role as online editor of Outside?
Joe Spring: Sure. I'm the online editor of Outside magazine, and we have a Web site that combines material from the magazine and then a lot of exclusive content that we do in addition to that. So a lot of my job is basically writing headlines and short text blurbs for articles from the magazine and then editing a few different types of articles that we have that are just online. An example of that would be that we have an Ask the Experts section where we have seven different experts, on everything from gear to fitness to nutrition, who basically answer reader questions online. So they'll submit their answers for a reader question and I'll go in and edit that and post it up. Other things I'll do are occasionally edit some video for online and then also gather some photo galleries.
PRWeek: What do you like about working for Outside online rather than strictly writing and reporting for the print edition of the magazine?
Spring: For Outside online, there are just so many different forms that you can tell a story in. Basically that's still what we're about on the Web site, as well as in the magazine: telling a really good adventure and promoting the active life for people. There are different ways we do that online versus the magazine. One of [the ways] is through video, and that seems to be the one that's growing the most this year. We do a lot of fitness how-to videos; we do a lot of story videos.
So, for example, in the magazine, one of our editors here trained to be a cage fighter. His name is Ryan Krogh, and he just went in the gym for six months, had never fought before, and trained to step into an octagon in a crowded room full of people and fight. And what we were able to do with that is not just have him write the story for the magazine, but we actually went and filmed his training, and filmed his fight, and then we put together a video clip for online that actually told his story in a different way. So getting to do a lot of creative stuff like that is a really fun part of working online.
PRWeek: Is there a particular method behind how you choose the topics that you cover in your blogs, videos, podcasts, and the different online features that you have?
Spring: Yes, there is actually. A lot of it comes from people on staff here so pretty much everyone who works on staff on the magazine contributes to the Web site, in some way or form. A lot of people write on the blog about something they love. Whether it's gear, or photography, or raising a dog. And also every month they will send me ideas for stuff that will contribute to the Web site that ties into one of their stories. So with [Krogh's] he basically said when he was writing the story ‘Hey I'm writing this story, I'm going to go train and then fight, do you want to do video or photos or something of it?' and of course I said, ‘yes.' So he talked to the guy at the gym, and the guy at the gym said, ‘Come on in, shoot whatever you want,' and so that's how that was born.
PRWeek: Outside covers subjects that likely appeal to a broad range of people. Does it have a specific target demographic?
Spring: Online we try to basically just encourage everybody to live the active life, and to go outdoors and basically stay fit. It's the message of our magazine; it's also the message of our Web site. And what we find is we have a slightly higher rate of males that both read the magazine and visit the Web site, and generally they are a little bit older. You know, they're in their late 30s or early 40s. But we see those numbers kind of broadening out now a little bit on the Web site, which is kind of nice.
PRWeek: Do you make efforts to broaden [that demographic] and attract a larger female readership?
Spring: Yes, we do. On the Web site there are a few things we've added in just the last year to give a little bit more coverage, [so] that women can come to the Web site and find out what's going on in the world outside.
One of our experts is the Gear Girl. We added her about two months ago and she answers reader's questions about different pieces of female-specific gear. We have someone named The Material Girl, who blogs for us, and she specifically blogs on female gear, female adventure, [and] stuff like that. So those are actually two things that we've added towards gear on the Web site that's catered towards females.
A lot of our fitness videos are done by a woman named Carolyn Parker, and we also had a woman recently named Keira Newton do a kettle bell workout video. And so those things are fitness videos that are tailored - men or women can do them - but we've got women on the Web site showing other women how you can do these exercises to get in better shape. And that's something we've added in the last year.
PRWeek: Has the current economic climate had any effect on your work, making it more difficult, or does it have any impact on the topics you cover?
Spring: Not directly. The good thing about working here is that everybody's really motivated. And what we've actually seen in the last year is everybody in the office picking up more and more online stuff. So people are just excited by our Web site, so they are doing more photography for it, more blogging for it, offering up more ideas. More and more people are shooting video.
People are constantly coming to my office saying, ‘Hey how can I do this, how can I do this in the blog? Can I take one of the cameras out so I can shoot this story?' So we're actually not seeing, on the editorial side, people getting down in the office about what's going on, at least on the Web site. What actually is happening is people are getting really excited about the stuff that they can do online.
PRWeek: Do you think all those things that you do with the Web make it easier to engage with you're your readers and people that are interested in Outside?
Spring: It definitely does, and what we are seeing is an increase in reader interactivity on the Web site. A lot more people are commenting on the blogs. And then we've set up a Facebook page and a YouTube page where people can go and leave their comments on recent blog posts or recent articles. They can also go in and share the video; you know, put our videos up on their Web sites by simply embedding the stuff we have up on YouTube on their own sites, whether it's a MySpace page or a Facebook page. So in that way they've become a lot more engaged with Outside online.
PRWeek: Are there any exciting projects you're looking forward to tackling in 2009?
Spring: Yeah, there're definitely a lot of them. We want to update the site more frequently, so that's one thing we're going to start doing, is changing things a lot more on the homepage. Just so that people start coming back everyday. That's probably the biggest thing we'll do.
We're really working to increase the number of videos and increase the quality of videos. So we've hired a video producer that actually works in house and edits a lot of our videos. His name is Brad Klopman, and he does a great job. He's a recent graduate from the College of Santa Fe, here in town. And he hammers stuff out really quickly and does a great job with the graphics and cutting and editing different pieces of film together to make something that looks really good.
PRWeek: You probably get pitched a lot by different PR people. Do you have any advice for people who are looking to pitch Outside?
Spring: For people in PR that are looking to either pitch the magazine or the Web site, you know it's hard to give any one definite good piece of advice. The biggest thing I say to anyone, whether they're someone that's a writer, or blogger, or video producer, is just be quick and short up top so I know what exactly you're pitching right away. And most people in PR are already good at that anyway. But that's like the single one piece of advice I give out to people. And also, just know what you're pitching. So if you're pitching the magazine, know the different sections of the magazine and what our target audience is and what we cover. And the same thing for the Web site. We have a lot of stuff on the Web site [that] we don't have in the magazine. And certainly if you take a look and you send me an e-mail and you point out something specific that we did, I'm going to notice that right away.
PRWeek: Do you have a favorite aspect of your job?
Spring: Just basically working with everybody in the office on everything. I think the best part of my job is just the enthusiasm that everybody else has here to contribute to the Web site. Everybody really does take a lot of their time, and its extra time that's above and beyond [what they do for] the magazine, to get pictures, shoot video, write stuff for the blog. And its fun just basically tossing ideas back and forth with different people in the office about what will work on the web.
Name: Joe Spring
Title: Online editor
Preferred e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web site: http://outside.away.com/index.html