[View Point] Your Road Map to PCT in the Digital Age

Columns - View Point

March 26, 2013
Brad Harbison

“iPad and mobile device users like to explore articles,” was how PCT’s New Media Art Director Jim Blayney described the reading habits of PCT’s fastest growing segment. The comment was made during a PCT editorial staff meeting of which Jim is now a regular contributor, providing suggestions on how PCT can be enhanced to give our readers a more engaging and enriched experience.

In the coming months you’ll see more exciting digital enhancements, all of which can be traced to a decision by PCT’s parent company, GIE Media, to develop native apps for each of our publications. (If you have not already done so, download the new PCT app at http://bit.ly/VKauEz.) While the old PCT app served as a great digital gateway, it was essentially a flipbook of each issue of PCT magazine. Recognizing that digital readers are engaged for longer periods of time (roughly 47 minutes per entrance into an app, according to our data) we wanted to make our content really “pop,” and our new native app gives us that ability.

So with the goal of adding new digital features and functions for our readers “to explore,” the PCT staff has been busy doing just that in 2013. Here’s a look at some of the digital enhancements we’ve made thus far, which can serve as a road map for exploring future digital versions of PCT:

Animation — Several PCT feature articles and ads use animation, ranging from subtle movement/color changes to dramatic 3D animation. The January PCT cover image, for example, features a belt tightening the words “Middle Class.” For the digital version, readers actually see the belt tightening and squeezing the words “Middle Class.” Similarly, the print version of January’s “Watching Your Step” feature includes a foot overlooking a well. In the digital version of that same story, the well actually spins when readers visit this story (below image).

Additional charts and photos — PCT’s digital readers also will see more visual components, including additional graphs and photos. Oftentimes, we simply don’t have enough space in the print magazine to accommodate all of a feature’s graphs and photos. A great example is PCT’s annual photo contest, which is included annually in our February issue. While the print version includes the winning photo and 10 finalist photos, the digital version includes other outstanding photos.

Audio/video components — The digital version of PCT is a great platform for PCT to promote its podcasts and videos that tie in to PCT articles. For example, this month’s Rearview is a fun look back at some of the major events of the last 52 years, the duration of Paul Hardy’s employment with Orkin. The digital version of that same story includes a podcast in which Hardy reflects back on his storied career. And some ads in PCT are now enhanced for the digital version with video and animation, in addition to weblinks.

So the PCT staff’s challenge moving forward is to ask ourselves “What’s the best way to enhance this story for the digital version?” It’s a fun, collaborative process where possibilities are limited only by one’s imagination. And PCT’s readers also can collaborate with us. If we happen to interview you for an article and something digitally comes to mind, let us know. It’s also a process that involves a significant investment of not only resources, but people. GIE Media’s New Media team (whose names and titles now appear in the PCT masthead) worked diligently to create the new app and they will continue to drive GIE’s digital initiatives in the coming years.

The author is Internet editor and managing editor of PCT and can be contacted via email at bharbison@giemedia.com.