Snakeskin

Camayak can act as a 'skin' for a newsroom's CMS

Credit: By Steenslag on Flickr. Some rights reserved.
For publishers juggling numerous projects and journalists working in and out of the newsroom, keeping things organised and ensuring clear communication is very important.

Camayak, which launched just over a year ago, offers a platform from which a newsroom can manage all stages of an editorial workflow, from idea to publication.

The platform was co-founded by chief executive Roman Heindorff and chief technology officer Edward Smith, with the idea prompted by Heindorff's own experience having established a digital-only publication around three years ago.

"I was new to the game of organising editorial on that scale," he said, adding that he "found it very difficult" navigating between numerous platforms to keep track of work and communications.

Deciding to call it a day on the publication, Heindorff said he remained "really foxed by this editorial management problem", and so joined together with Smith to launch Camayak.

The cloud-based platform enables users, who pay for a year-long licence, to work collaboratively with colleagues on articles, with the ability to write, edit and publish content, as well as discuss pitches and distribute assignments and organise the work calendar.

Camayak's client base is largely US university media, which Heindorff described as a "fantastic environment to throw some ideas at and see what they take to and what they do find to be problem solvers".

"You get such a good exposure to newsrooms prepared to try the latest tools, relentlessly. That's good for us."

"All publishers are feeling a squeeze in one way or another," he added, "but the groups that you find at the college and high school level that are invested in helping support journalism grassroots are really impressive".

More recently the platform has also begun working with corporations interested in content marketing, who Heindorff said "are using us as a backbone to organise all of their staff, worldwide in some cases, to keep everyone on the same page and on message, and have it all in one place and produce more content ultimately".

Solving confusion

One of the key problems faced when it comes to managing editorial workflows is confusion, Heindorff identified.

"You spend a tremendous amount of time chasing people, to find out just what the latest status is on something so can update a spreadsheet cell," he explained.

So some of the key problems Camayak hopes to tackle include "confusion, lack of clarity and lack of the right kind of first user experience for a new contributor."

It also promises to interact with "any CMS".

"You wouldn't have to throw away your existing CMS, your publishing platforms," he said. "We would very much sit underneath or beside and push content into the platforms that you're already comfortable using."

He said for some publishers, who may have recently invested heavily in a new CMS, they sometimes question why they would "want to put another layer between my staff and CMS", Heindorff said.

But he explained that sometimes, the experience for staff or scalability can have been "very far down the list of priorities".

"So we like to think we're in some ways a skin for the CMS", he added.

Launching partnership products

Earlier this month Camayak announced it had jointly launched a new standalone liveblogging platform called BeatStrap, with Daniel O'Connor, who is studying computer science at New York's Binghamton University.

In an announcement, Camayak said BeatStrap is a "tool for Twitter users to report on events together by tweeting with the same hashtag".

The user simply needs to establish who they wish to be able to feed content into the blog and set a hashtag to decide which content makes it through.

The idea was that BeatStrap would "make it easier to harness those updates" from individual journalists, as well as publisher accounts, Heindorff said. The result is a stream of tweets effectively offering a real-time view of the publisher's 'beat'.

Heindorff added that the product offered a "nice counter point to what Camayak does".

Users of BeatStrap can set how long they want blogs to run for, and by paying for a pro account this can be extended beyond a certain limit which applies to free accounts.

Asked whether the company's focus in the near future will be on Camayak or any similar new partnerships, Heindorff said it is "in touch with half a dozen or so different companies doing really different things".

"We are always interested in talking to people about specific niche products that they're developing that have an obvious and accessible relationship or integration potential with what we're doing.

"Over the next 12 months I think we're all extremely excited about what we can introduce both into Camayak thanks to partnerships with other people, but hopefully leverage some stuff back to those products".

As for BeatStrap, the team will spend the next few months continuing to work and develop it, "finding out how and why people enjoy using it", he said.

While this will help provide them with a "solid idea of how integration with Camayak could work", the platform "will definitely retain a life of its own beyond that", he added.

Back to Camayak, and Heindorff added that the team is also "working towards something really big in October", which will offer a portfolio-style service based on the information the system has on who contributed to specific assignments.

"So there's a richness there of effort that people have put in," he said. "I'm not aware of any product anywhere that archives that meaningfully and displays it for that person's benefit."

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